Saturday, 31 December 2016


Halcyon days.

          Warm summers, strong sunshine, autumn leaves, cold white frost an inch thick on frozen surfaces, huge downpours onto moist Spring ground, lovely rare steak and venison, lamb casserole, beautiful red wine. The feeling that its Friday morning when in fact its Saturday and you can close your heavy eyes and get back to sleep. All things that can easily, for me at least,  be associated with Halcyon. No longer, alas, with the Thornbridge beer of the same name.

I used to love Halcyon. It was, frankly, a completely terrific beer. Bundles of fruit and citrus hops balanced perfectly in a scrumptious mix to make the ideal fruity pale ale, but with beautiful lingering bitterness in the aftertaste. In 2012 I came back from a week of slightly less inspiring beers in Crete and went to the Bath Hotel for a pint. I wasn't actually enamoured with the selection of real ales and kegs so went for a bottle of Thornbridge Halcyon. I absolutely loved it.

This was the first beer that I loved in cask, on keg, and in a bottle. It was so well balanced, it hit all the right notes in my book for a wonderfully refreshing strong pale ale. Its arrival at any pub was a triumph of delivery over expectation because it was also almost always better than I hoped or imagined it would be.

Three weeks ago, likely more, I was in the Bath Hotel,  talking to Chris, or a man with a similar or entirely different name, who is currently running the pub. I have been going to the Bath less often lately but that isn't a reflection of beer quality, more of a different drinking pattern, less often being one feature. I noticed that Halcyon was on keg and was about £4.70 a pint, and ordered it with glee. And then I tasted it.

Um...someone forgot to add the citrus hops and mouthwatering fruit flavours for a start. And the bitterness was there, but was bleak and harsh and a little like paracetamol. I had expected a wonderful taste, and hadn't had some for a while, but this was a terrible re-enactment of a once wonderful beer.

I don't know enough about brewing to figure out what changes have been made to the recipe, or indeed why Thornbridge beer has become so poor - especially given the excellent pale they brewed back in September. I do think that an alleged merry go round of new brewers in quick succession may have destabilised the brewing, but if that is the case the solution is surely simple.... employ a good reliable brewer on a long term rather than short(est) term basis.

I am sure that running pubs makes Thornbridge more money than brewing beer does, so as a business I can forgive them for prioritising one over the other (if they indeed are) but I can't forgive them for ruining one of m,y former favourite beers ever, and making a rubbish version of Halcyon, worse even than the needlessly sweet Belgian version.

What lies ahead in 2017 for Thornbridge? I hope its better beer, simple as.

Yours in regret and disappointment

Wee Beefy

Friday, 30 December 2016


Hello all,

  I wanted to write today about Sheffield's Micropubs.

The first I knew of  ( in the UK) was in Kent. It was called the Butchers and was, am guessing, set in a former Butchers shop. It was definitely in Kent. And it could (probably) seat 3 people. It was open half an hour every week by appointment only, and had a pin to last that whole session.

OK, I made much of the above up. I have, after all, never been there. The first one I went to was the Little Chesters  Ale House in that there Derby. I really enjoyed it. I was surprised, however, that there was nothing similar in Sheffield.

In late 2013 or a similar sounding year the Crookes Ale House was,  to my mind, Sheffield's first pop[ up pub. I knew very little about ir and even after a description of its location I struggled to find it. I went in with Carlos the first time and Angie and Jackie and other peeps the second. I bought a bottle f the Courage Imperial stout which I may possibly still have, and loved it. Local ale was on stillage, and it opened for six days or less.

The next year this became the Walkley Beer Co. I didn't visit until my 40th birthday and I tried my specially brewe (well, dry hopped version at least) birthday ale, and spoke to Josh and Christy and Kit. The pub later or already had a permanent license and I have been going in ever since.

Tonight I had two pints, the Cromarty Brewing Rogue Wave IPA at 5.9%, a hoppy pale, and the 6.9% Wild Madness IPA. I saw Rob, Dan and the gent whose name I can't remember,. as well as Rhod and Kit and Imogen and a guy called Pete. The atmosphere and ale was as always, excellent.

I just wanted to say well done to the shop, or rather micro pub, and all Sheffield's others. Because its a fine feature of Sheffield watering holes that your service and range is required, and whats more very much appreciated.

As the beer capital of the UK, I am not surprised that Sheffield can support 6 micropubs!

With warmest regards

Sir Beefalot

Tuesday, 27 December 2016


Good afternoon Lazerngennulmern

        it occurred to me today (well, during a quiet period of reflection on Christmas Day actually) that it has taken me until now, or rather then, to realise the following.....

The "Reet Ale Pubs Company" sounds like the Retail Pubs Company.

Its taken me the three or maybe four or more years since their inception to figure this out. It explains, for one, the pronunciation used by Mr Stephens's. Its also "funny" because Reet Ale sounds like retail. And as a pub company, they retail not only ale, in their Reet Ale Pubs, but also retail Reet Pale Ale in their Reet Ale Pubs.

Its a pun!

Ha ha!

Ha ha!


And yes, I can confirm that Boxing day and today have been quiet, thanks for asking.

With warmest twixt winter solstice and years end regards

Wee Beefy.

Monday, 26 December 2016


Merry Chrissmuss yall!

         the title of this post is perhaps a little risky - although pertinent, I appear to have locally garnered a reputation for being some sort of criticism monkey, living in a tree of moaning in a forest of malcontent. So to make clear now, this isn't a polite way of saying Bastards. Its a way of saying Bar Stewards, but making it one word. You may not have noticed, but I am trying to stick to single word post titles this month, in order to be more punchy and, um,  rad, fo the yoot. I am quite old by the way....

Anyway, the Bar Stewards is Sheffield;s latest pop up pub - this claim is made on the basis of a lack of information about the Pub Inn which opened after I had already formulated the text for this post. So nehrrr.

Its on Gibraltar Street across from Shakespeares and is run by Al and another gentleman, who will have one of many thousand male human names, probably with an I in it. I dunno, Richard, Michael?

The pair have done a good job sprucing up the empty retail unit and have a bar with four handpumps and possibly some sort of keg dispense, with a well socked fridge behind with bottles and cans inside. There is also a snazzy toilet, and comfortable seating throughout. I have been in three times now and enjoyed each one, the first by myself, once with the lovely Kati and once with Mr Grant and Hux's friend whose name I have since forgotten. On that occasion the real ales on offer were Wild Millionaire stout, Tiny Rebel Cwtch, North Riding Mosaic Pale and Fyne Ales Jarl. The North Riding and Fyne were tried and both were on good form.

I understand the idea is to get a permanent license and open full time sometime in the future - it is rumoured there has been much red tape to leap over and clamber through which may be retarding progress. I do hope for their sake's they get a permanent license - the bar does feel just like a pub now (if that makes sense) and especially in December, when the wonderful Shakespeares is packed to the rafters, its often a little quieter in the Bar stewards.

One question you may ask is - does Sheffield really need another ale venue? The answer is - yes. Of course. Not just because one has recently closed either, but because all venues have their own unique atmosphere and offer their own brand of hospitality. If the nearby (ish) Pub Inn becomes permanent there will be six Micropubs in Sheffield and what that does is increase choice for consumers, which has to be a good thing.

In addition to the cask and bottles and cans they also sell wine and possibly spirits and crisps, and Mr Rich was there doing a quiz on Wednesday last so this may take off as a regular feature. Whats more, Bar Stewards is the perfect place to undertake support for Drinkuary, which I expect all of you to be involved in through the dark joyless January ahead.


Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 20 December 2016



       despite my recent inescapable slide into debt and trashed credit ratings, I got there only recently - as in, I arrived there, finally, after many years of effort. During more recent times, and since, mainly through the generosity of my friends, I have tried numerous beers from Cloudwater. The Manchester brewery may have a reputation solely for producing DIPA's. However, and whatever its repute, many people want to know what Cloudwater are all about. The thing is, I don't know.

I do however know what I have thought, tasted, enjoyed and observed of them.

I first heard about Cloudwater in 2015. Two brewers and two beer bloggers were discussing what they thought of a heavily hyped new brewery in Manchester. As I sat dewy eared in the Beer Engine beer garden, I was puzzled how a brewery could be so heavily hyped, and yet I hadn't heard a thing about them? Well, luckily, there was a Cloudwater beer on at Shakespeares the next day. It was low strength and fairly tasty. It didn't explain the hype or lack of though. It didn't really add up. And then, Cloudwater IPA's at 7 or 7.5%, started turning up in the Bath Hotel.

Many sessions during late 2015 were spent in the Bath Hotel sampling wonderful easy drinking Cloudwater IPA. Some of them were the best beers I had in 2015 and when I found one on cask at Shakespeares on New Years Eve I was very very pleased. More so, when I heard about their DIPA 1 celebration strong pale. I didn't get to try this on draught, but did very luckily get to buy the last bottle from the Walkley Beer Co. It was fab. Hoppy. Bitter. Backed with good malt that supported the hops without fighting against them. It had a slight "Manchester sweetness" to it and it was 9% and drank like Vimto.

For those not in the know, DIPA V 10 has recently been released. It lasted a day at Shakespeares, despite being sold at £7.50 a pint (which is actually a good price for the V10). It still doesn't drink like a 9% IPA and I note from the bottle labels that at least, up until V9, they added dextrose extract or similar, to the malt. This may of course feature in all beers but I wondered if that was what gave the Cloudwater DIPA that simultaneous new world hoppiness tinged with Manchester sweetness? Or is that simply the yeast they use? (they used Lees yeast in one brew, maybe 7...).

Either way, and no matter how "DIPA'd out" some of us may be, the recent announcement of more regular releases shows a commitment to bettering a single product. My only worry is, how will they do that?

Reading the back of a Cloudwater bottle is a little like looking at notes from a science class. Am interested, but not as much as I am in whether or not the beer tastes good. And so far, none have tasted bad. All have tasted good (even 3) and some have tasted fantastic. The interesting developments will come if and when they make more changes to their DIPA brews. Maybe change the template of the brew...

The one thing that jumped out of their recent blog about DIPA's is the idea that the beer keeps its hoppiness by not being exposed to temperatures above 5c from bottling to receipt. Their post claims that definitive flavours in beer are killed off by exposure to heat. It is something I have heard about before but am not aware of a brewery previously adapting this cold storage and cold distribution plan.

I have one bottle of unopened Cloudwater DIPA left - its number 8 (haven't got a ten yet). I intend to drink it on Christmas day.

Because no matter what they or others say, Cloudwater brew a bloody delicious DIPA.


Wee Beefy

Thursday, 8 December 2016


Funds, Ladies and Gentlemen, what are they?

Like memories, I don't have them.

The above jokey statement in fact belies a foul, nidorous cataclysm of financial ruination that hangs above me like a cloud of crying, near dead, children. Whilst that statement is slightly over-exaggerated, it is however by no means easier to manage than its un-exaggerated reality....

Funds, as we know, are essential to life, essential to drinking and of course to paying debts. Funds are limited. Funds are scarce. Funds, for me, are a far forgotten dream.

This post is, therefore, not an exploration of the cost of buying beer. It is in effect a statement. Not a pious cry for help, not a whinging moping mardy about whose fault everything is, instead more an honest reflection. Am also not going to use this blog to make rash and unlikely predictions about my abilities to sort out and likelihood of solving my funding problem, which we may also refer to as debt - that would be reckless. I am however going to admit, dear readers, to you, what has mostly caused this situation.

Its me.

My debt is mine. I caused it. My lack of funds stems from my own reckless, wilful, degenerate over consumption of ale in fine public houses the land over.

For clarity, specifically, nobody else:

Forced me to go to the pub almost every day for the last 5 years;
Held me at knife-point and poured delicious real ales and keg beers down my capacious throat as if liquid itself was going out of fashion;
Made me buy numerous bottles of beer that one should maybe only buy now and again as an expensive treat;
Compelled me to spend my existing funds and many many more travelling the country with friends and family to visit amazing unspoilt pubs.


All of the above actions undertakings and happenstances took place with my consent, under my own yoke. Alas the weight of those decisions, mistakes, tribulations, misdemeanours and rash actions, has caused me to wither. Just a little. Maybe a lot. So I have to stop. I have if nothing else to think of these effects on those that I love.

Before Sheffield publicans begin contemplate suicide, I am not giving up drinking. Too much it seems, I love the social hub-ub, the sparkling marriage of the hop and the malt, the listening in on jocular, absurd, nonsensical and moving, in equal quantity, conversations in pubs, and the joy of finding that near perfect beer, good enough to sate you, perhaps fully, but not enough to stop you wanting to continue your search for the very best, to stop.

I will however be cutting down significantly.

So, like I said, the above is a statement. Maybe part proclamation, part paean for positively overindulging. Its where I am.

Your very good health

Wee Beefy